Education Editorial: Job skills

Education Editorial: Job skills

While recently discussing work preparation with a group of business and education leaders, the comment was made, "Companies need graduates who are prepared in the soft skills."

Now what are the soft skills? According to Wikipedia, "soft skills is a term associated with a person's EQ (emotional intelligence)… the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize relationships with other people. Soft skills complement hard skills which are the occupational requirements of a job…"

Well, it sounds like Wikipedia needs to be updated since perhaps both hard and soft skills are "occupational requirements" and let's not forget ethics and attendance. Businesses may most need honest people who are on the job.

In reality, when employers call me for a reference they don't ask about the student's grade point average. They want to know about the student's attendance, behavior, and relationship with other people. With discussions of reforming Virginia's K-12 accountability system, let's not forget that a highly skilled but frequently absent and dishonest employee has both real and opportunity costs.

While a principal, a student on her way to Harvard said, "Suppose I get a degree from Harvard and can't do anything?" Perhaps high schools and colleges should look at their curricula and ask not only what their students will be able to do… but more importantly, who they will be.

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